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The Sting of Betrayal

by Jose Latour

The Associated Press recently covered - as did a number of other news agencies and television networks - the story of the 500 or so immigrants who have been arrested since the "special registration" process began in November. While I have certainly been loud and vociferous on the subject of my client still stuck abroad, I haven't really told you folks about the more sinister aspect of special registrants and what's been happening in the United States.

The INS has not officially released the number of detained individuals affected by special registration pertaining to Middle Eastern immigrants, but AILA calculates the figure at about 500. Male visa holders, age 16 and older, from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria were asked to report to local immigration offices on a voluntary basis to be fingerprinted and photographed. As these men have appeared at INS offices to comply with the request, many have been arrested due to technical violations of immigration status, some of them caused by INS processing delays.

Pretty amazing, eh?

In The Associated Press article, the story of Jisroo Mohajery, the pregnant mother of a 16-year-old Iranian-born son was chronicled in painful detail: counseling her young son to voluntarily register with the INS, the boy is now in deportation proceedings. Ms. Mohajery's conclusion:

"I blame myself... just because I followed the law..."

That's the moral signal that we are sending out to immigrants, Mr. Ashcroft. We're the government, and we're here to help.


The article quoted INS spokesman Francisco Arcaute but, tragically, did not include a photograph, so I cannot tell you whether he was able to say this with a straight face:

"We need this program to better protect our borders. I trust if there were any mistakes, they will be corrected for a future deadline."

Hello?? These guys are already INSIDE THE UNITED STATES!! How on earth is this protecting our borders if these guys are already in here? And as far as "corrected for a future deadline," that's a load of baloney. I have a client who is being victimized by the special registration program, along with his family, and it is working about as efficiently as a cast net on a Great White shark. Since July my client has been stuck abroad, separated from his family, repeatedly assured by a U.S. Consulate that the State Department has been diligently processing his case; last week we learned that the State Department has never heard of my client. This comes approximately 70 faxes, e-mails, and phone calls later. Congressional intervention... a complete waste of time.

There is no accountability, no mercy, and no success whatsoever with the screening system. It is a pure and simple "throw the baby out with the bath water" philosophy implemented by Mr. Ashcroft, and the lives that are being wrecked are not making any one in charge at the White House lose any sleep.

As has always been my experience, those INS officers tasked with the execution of the idiotic policies coming out of Washington feel the same way the rest of us mere mortals feel: shocked and embarrassed. Another Iranian mother quoted in the article indicated that the "compassion of an INS agent" who interviewed her son offered her some relief. I am glad for that, but that is little consolation.

There are too many bulls in the china shop, and frankly, I'm getting tired of stepping into what those bulls produce.

About The Author

Jose Latour is the founding partner of Latour & Lleras, P.A., a Gainesville, Florida based business immigration practice representing corporations nationwide in visa management, compliance, and HR training. The above represents Mr. Latour's Editorial opinion. The A/V rated firm and its web site,, were named a winner of the 2002 Inc. Magazine Web Award, receiving recognition along with 14 other companies as the best Web companies in America. In 1999, the firm was named “One of America’s Top Ten Internet/Virtual Companies” in the Inc. Magazine and Cisco Systems “Growing with Technology Awards." The site is one of the most visited and widely read resource on the Internet on U.S. immigration law, attracting subscribers from all over the world , the media and from within the U.S. government. Mr. Latour served as a U.S. Diplomatic and Consular Officer in Mexico and Africa before entering private practice and today divides his time between his law practice, writing, flying, and his music.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.